President Vladimir Putin will issue a “doomsday” warning to the West when he leads celebrations marking the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany on Monday, using massive Russian firepower as his forces battle in Ukraine.
Faced with deep Western isolation since he ordered the invasion of neighboring Russia, Putin will speak on Red Square before a parade of troops, tanks, missiles and ICBMs.
Basil’s Cathedral will include supersonic fighters, Tu-160 strategic bombers and, for the first time since 2010, the command aircraft. Il-80 “Doomsday”, The Defense Ministry said it would transport senior Russian officers in the event of a nuclear war.
In this scenario, the Il-80 is designed to become the roving command post of the Russian president. It’s packed with technology, but the specifics are a state secret.
The 69-year-old Kremlin chief has repeatedly compared the war in Ukraine to the challenge the Soviet Union faced during the Nazi invasion of Adolf Hitler in 1941.
“Attempting to appease the aggressor on the eve of the Great Patriotic War turned out to be a mistake that cost our people dearly,” Putin said on February 24, announcing what he called a special military operation in Ukraine.
We will not make such a mistake again, we have no right. »
Putin portrays the war in Ukraine as a battle to protect Russian speakers from Nazi persecution and from what he calls the American threat to Russia posed by NATO expansion. Ukraine and the West reject the assertion of fascism as nonsense and say that Putin is waging an unjustified war of aggression.
The Soviet Union lost 27 million people in World War II, more than any other country, and Putin in recent years has criticized what Moscow sees as Western attempts to review the history of the war to diminish the Soviet victory.
Besides the defeat of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812, the defeat of Nazi Germany was Russia’s most respected military victory, although the two disastrous invasions from the West left Russia extremely sensitive to its borders.
This D-Day will be overshadowed by the war in Ukraine.
The Russian invasion killed thousands and displaced nearly 10 million people. It has also left Russia in the grip of harsh Western sanctions and raised fears of a broader confrontation between Russia and the United States – by far the world’s two largest nuclear powers.
Although 11,000 soldiers marching through Red Square with what the Defense Ministry said would be 131 pieces of military equipment would appear in a big spectacle, the conflict in Ukraine exposed the weaknesses of Russia’s armed forces despite Putin’s bid during his two decades in power. to halt the post-Soviet decline.
The Kremlin has been denied a quick victory, and Russia’s economy – hard hit by sanctions – faces its worst downturn in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Less than two decades ago, US President George W. Bush joined Putin at the May 9 festivities in Moscow. The Kremlin said no Western leaders had been invited this year.
Two sources close to Reuters’ armed forces told Reuters that the United States and its allies have stepped up arms shipments to Ukraine, and some members of Russia’s military have called on Putin to fire more force at Ukraine. Moscow has told the West that its arms supplies are legitimate targets.
Prior to May 9, speculation swirled in Moscow and Western capitals that Putin was preparing some kind of special declaration on Ukraine, perhaps an outright declaration of war or even a national mobilization.
On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied those suggestions, calling them “nonsense.”
The Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment on what Putin might say in his speech, which will be delivered from the pulpit of Red Square outside Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum.
Last year Putin criticized Western exceptionalism and what he said was the rise of neo-Nazism and Russophobia – trends he has repeatedly returned to when addressing the Ukraine issue.
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